Dutch Designer Pauline van Dongen unveiled her Solar Shirt at SXSW Interactive in mid-March 2015 to quite a stir. The shirt is a sleek, fashion-forward design made of a single piece of fabric, and incorporates 120 thin film solar cells and flexible (not to mention washable) electronics. This is a shirt suitable for everyday wear.
More impressive, the shirt generates enough electricity to charge USB-compatible devices. Designer van Dongen says that the shirt generates 1W of energy per hour in bright sunlight, and the shirt can store power for later use in a battery pack.
“Wearing solar cells lets us harness the sun’s potential energy and become a power source ourselves,” van Dongen says in a statement. “As a designer, I’m excited by how solar cells can add to the aesthetic of a garment.”
The Holst Centre, an independent R&D center that develops the flexible electronics technologies in the shirt, believes textile manufacturers could bring this shirt to market in a matter of months with current production capabilities.
While solar fabrics are not a new technology (indeed, Japanese labs have been working on creating solar fabrics for nearly a decade), they have been limited in their application and durability for years. Innovative technologies like these bring a self-solar-powered world more fully into grasp.
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